Previous weekends as follows:
Sorry for all the number bollox but it's been a mixed run and I can't be arsed to write anything more interesting.
Puntering about at Pass Of Ballater
Not a lot to say about Pass Of Ballater. I went years ago, lead a VS, belayed someone up an 8m VDiff for an hour, then it rained. This time I came back a wee bit fitter and stronger and syked for some harder routes there. However it seems like every harder route seems to involve a ridiculously hard start up the natural line and an indirect rambling bollox variant, or an unstarred easier variant up the natural line and a highly starred and unnaturally harder rambling bollox variant. It's all a bit odd. The most inspiring lines are in the nasty-little-gritstone-ankle-snapper vein and although cool need to be left for a cooler day. So in the end there was a lot of anger on Anger and Lust (mistakenly thinking the finish would be hard and getting very stressed before realising it was piss, just like the route overall), errr and also I swallowed a fly whilst belaying my partner on his crucial crux move. Hmmm.
Anger And Lust E2 5c ***
Rattlesnake Variant E2 5c **
Wee bit o'bumbling at Weem boulders
Trying to mix and match and do a bit of training to progress with the ever challenging and all important trad onsighting, I diverted to Weem to try some of the bouldering there. Initially impressions of a sheer clean wall above a lovely leafy landing in a sun-dabbled glade are very promising, but like almost all Scottish bouldering venues, there's some crucial deficit - in this case, most of the lines are properly highball with blind, rounded finishes. Not hard but not very enticing for the lone boulderer with two soggy mats. I puntered around, got good at reversing from the top, and had a promising play on the eliminate and arbitrary but kinda fun (and reassuringly lowball) "The Chop".
Some fun at South Yardhope
People sometimes ask me if I've done much climbing in Northumberland... "Only at Back Bowden, Bowden, Berryhill, Callerhues, Corby's Crag, Crag Lough, Curtis Crag, Drakestone, Great Wanney, Goat Crag, Jack Rock, Kyloe In, Kyloe Out, Peel Crag, Ravensheugh, Rothley, Sandy Crag, Selby's Cove, and Simonside", I answer casually with a smug lack of modesty. I do like the County and I do like exploring around it, and I got to do so this weekend, continuing in strict alphabetical order with South Yardhope. Like many "off radar" Northumberland crags, it has great lines that are currently in rubbish condition and need a keen local to clean them up, and a few classics that have stayed climbable. I warmed up on one of those, and got to grips with the seemingly not-classic but actually almost-classic-apart-from-fragile-flakes Stella. This provided a good logistical challenge, good climbing, and a tasty dose of fear. A fine route.
The Arete HVS 5b ***
Stella E4 5c **
Rock heaven at Rosehearty
Back to Rosehearty after many years. Like Ballater, I'd been before, had a wee bumble, and got inspired to come back and tackle some meatier fare. This I did. The meatier fare was tough, punishing, but good Aberdeen-style steepness. I seemed to spend ages hanging around resting on grim semi-handjams. Well it worked. There was a moment of madness on ...Roses when after a huge effort to deal with the pump and gear and stuff, I pulled a hold off the top. Yet another one!! Strong or just fat?? You decide.
The highlight of the day was a more atypical experience, though: At the end of the day, after a lovely comfy belaying session in the evening sun with waves lapping nearby, I fancied a change so ventured onto the slabbier inner walls. Despite being quite familiar with culm/greywacke style slabs, I ended up a bit of a gibbering wreck on my chosen climb. Resting at a 1/3rd height break, trying to make sense of the maze of seams, dimples, and micro-flakes above, I got myself completely syked out. How could I commit when there seemed to be so little to go for?? "I'm not feeling the love..." I said. But....I eventually took one step to stand in the break. Unnerving. Another step up onto thin footholds. Hmmm. I'm in balance. Okay there's a wee cam. And a wire. Another step. A pocket for my hand. Nubbins for my feet....they're sticking. A good RP. Crimps....hey I'm doing this....hey I'm loving this. Bit by bit I tip-toed up the climb, and tip-toed back into the passion of climbing. Stepping outside the comfort zone and into the pleasure zone, it was a great experience.
Afterglow E2 5b ***
Coming Up Roses E3 5c ***
Tango On The Black E3 5c **
Extremely rubbish at Elephant Rock
It was one of "those" days A L'Heffalump. Great weather, good conditions, dry rock, chalked routes, low tide, plenty of time, good company, feeling fine. Climbing....utterfuckingbollox. Scraped up a warm-up. Got on something harder, couldn't do the start. Got on something a bit easier than something harder, couldn't do the start (think a hold might be missing). Got on one of the main inspiring challenges, put in some effort, foot slipped, I fell off. Arse. Everything stacked in one's favour except one's ability to climb. The only obvious factor was the grindingly painful rock on the warm-up route, which set an offputting sore hands theme for the day. A day in which the highlight was playing with a hermit crab - no bad thing in itself I suppose, hmph!!
Beware Of The Wellyfish F6b **